Relations: Is Your Company Crying Wolf?"
By Hilary Kaye, Hilary Kaye
Media relations, also referred to as publicity,
is a marketing tactic that is often either over-used or under-used
by companies. In reality, media relations is a particularly valuable
strategic approach for companies that wish to gain both visibility
and credibility, but it must be used properly to be truly effective.
At one end of the spectrum, some companies
believe that everything they do is newsworthy and tend to blanket
the media with press releases of dubious content and value. Unfortunately,
this barrage of news serves to water down the potential value
the releases have to the media. The intended effect of getting
the company frequent news coverage is rarely achieved this way.
Reporters and editors tend to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear
to companies that consistently send out news releases that do
not qualify as news in their estimation. When REAL news does come
from the company, many of these news outlets have already tuned
out and the news is ignored. "Crying wolf" is actually
one of the biggest mistakes companies can make. Unfortunately,
it happens frequently.
In stark contrast are the companies that
never utilize the vast potential of media relations. They
either assume that none of their news is truly newsworthy, or
they lack the know-how to deliver their news to the media. The
bottom line is that their marketing mix consists of advertising
and other "paid" strategies. While these strategies
are fine for gaining visibility for the company provided
they are carefully planned and executed they do nothing
to enhance credibility for the company. Publicity is truly the
best way to achieve credibility -- the implied, third-party endorsements
that come with editorial coverage are the best way to achieve
Somewhere in between these two extremes
is the proper way to conduct a media relations campaign. Media
relations should not be viewed as a panacea it is definitely
not a tactic for all seasons. In many cases, a press release
is not an effective tool to use and a call to the media is even
worse. Sometimes, delivering a targeted marketing message to an
email list of customers and prospects is a much better tactic
than trying to induce the media to carry the message for you.
For that reason, well-executed printed or emailed newsletters
delivered to appropriate recipients will have more
benefit than a press release that is trashed upon receipt and
never reaches its target.
That said, many companies have trouble deciding
what is newsworthy to the media. Just because something is important
to the company, it may not be important to the media. Individuals
charged with handling in-house public relations should consider
whether company news meets one or more items on this partial list
The news event is of great financial
significance to the company
The company is introducing a new product
A high-level executive is hired
The company is involved in a merger
The company adds a new facility or a
The company, its product or service
wins an industry honor/award
All of these occurrences and others
that fall outside of a category can be communicated via
a press release and, when appropriate, with phone or email "pitches"
to the media. However, understanding the various types of media
is just as important. A story that a local weekly newspaper would
feature on page one with photos would receive no notice in the
Wall Street Journal and possibly little notice in the nearby metropolitan
daily newspaper. However, several of your industry journals would
be pleased to include the item as a news brief at the very least.
Often, industry exposure can be even more important to your sales
efforts than general press or business media.
Before you begin any media relations work,
understand WHOM you would like to read about your company. Sending
the wrong kind of news to the wrong kind of publication will result
in an ineffective campaign that just takes up time and wastes
money. Be realistic about the quality of your news and who would
be interested in knowing what is happening at your company.
Media relations can be one of the most important
marketing tactics you use to generate greater visibility and build
credibility for your company. But if used inappropriately, you
will gain little and be left wondering what the fuss over publicity
is all about.
Hilary Kaye is president of Hilary
Kaye Associates, Inc. (HKA), a PR and marketing communications
firm that provides services to both emerging growth and established
companies. HKA specializes in targeted media relations for its
clients. Kaye can be reached at (714) 426-0444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.